A Day in the Life of a Student Intern: Brian
Our first day of the field tests, we woke up excited and anxious to get to JPL. Of course, we assumed we would have breakfast beforehand. I was expecting to go to a small diner or cafe to get something to eat, but no such luck-we were on a tight schedule. After getting our badges, we grabbed a small snack at the JPL cafeteria and headed up. At least we were better off than some of the science team who had to get there at 6:00! At 7:00 the first meeting started, then the next meeting started at 7:45, and finally the important meeting started at 8:15. At the beginning of the field tests, it seemed as if there would only be meeting after meeting after meeting, but we realized that without such organization the test mission would not be possible.
It was amazing to see so many great minds in one room. At first we felt intimidated by the scientists, but we were urged to interact with them and after awhile we begin talking about the rover and what had been going on before we arrived. We then actually began working with the information that the robot had sent to the scientists. They put us in charge of making sure all the information they expected had come back and working with some of the data to support their discoveries. This took me by total surprise because all these scientists relied on us to give them what they needed to continue planning the rover activities. I never thought we would have so much responsibility during the tests, let alone on the first day. There were 50 scientists who each had a Ph.D in at least one field. I figured there was at least 750 years of career experience in that room!
We went to lunch where there were all kinds of food: Mexican, American, Japanese, Italian, Indian, and others. We then went back to continue the field tests, and by then the intimidation had gone away and we felt comfortable among such amazing people. We discussed and worked with the scientists and some of us even changed some scientists' point-of-view, which in turn changed others, which occasionally made us a large influence in what happened with the rover. To celebrate what we had done that day, we went out to eat with some of the biggest names in the Mars Exploration program-from the Principal Investigator to the Program Executive! We then went back to the hotels and relaxed after the long day of work. Participating in this program was one of the best experiences of my life.